(About): The Swords of A Proud Independent Kingdom
The claymore greatsword was a fearsome mainstay in Scottish warfare for almost two centuries. Branching off from contemporary longsword designs that were common all across Europe at the time, the unique Scottish military context shaped it from a knightly chivalric weapon of battlefield and tournament into a devastating weapon of Highland warfare that would last long into the age of gunpowder. Our Scottish Claymore Sword reproduces the Highland claymore from its glory-days in the 16th-century. The claymore remains one of the most identifiable medieval weapons due to its distinctive Scottish design features, and Darksword Armory have done to great lengths to reproduce each of those features from the historical originals in flawless detail. Truly, it is a Highland blade brought back from the mists of obscurity. The hard part is, however, deciding between the two versions of this gorgeous sword: Darksword’s classic 5160 spring steel blade, perfect for rugged all-terrain use, or a sumptuous Elite Series blade made from four carefully graded steels, rippling with a pattern-welded grain that flows like water? Whichever you choose, ours is the finest Scottish claymore sword for sale today.
A Blade that Lasts for Centuries
Our Scottish Claymore Sword blade is exactly what you would expect from this behemoth weapon: fully 38” in length, it follows a Type XIIIa pattern, with long, almost parallel edges, a rounded tip, a wide, lenticular cross-section. The blade bears a deep fuller almost the entire length of the blade which lightens it and brings the point-of-balance closer to the hilt, making this giant sword surprisingly wieldy and agile. The blade is dual-tempered using Darksword’s signature heat treatment, resulting in a blade that is 60HRc at the edge and 48-50 HRc at the core – this provides the perfect combination of edge retention, resilience and flex. The end result is a staggeringly well-thought-out blade that is more than capable of going toe-to-toe with similar weaponry in light combat. The absolute highest quality of forging and construction is guaranteed by Darksword’s makers’ mark, their dragon sejant stamped on the blade just below the crossguard.
Darksword’s master smiths have chosen 5160 spring steel for the blade’s material. Although the Anglocentric narratives of medieval history paint the ‘rebellious Scots’ north of the Border as mere bothy-dwelling peatcutters, there was a series of flourishing medieval kingdoms throughout the period producing fine works of art, literature and craft – and Scottish smiths in the late-medieval era would have had increasingly high-quality metals from which to make their weaponry. Fine sword-blades could last for a century or more, but when their life as a claymore was done, they would be ground down and fitted with a basket-hilt, seeing a second life as a Scottish broadsword – and some even a third life as a dirk! 5160 steel is an excellent analogue for the tempered high-carbon steels that were being used to create Scottish claymore swords from the 15th-century onward, and it has the added bonus of being stainless (although we highly recommend that you look after your sword carefully by keeping it dry at all times!).
A Hilt That’s More Scottish Than Haggis
The hilt of our Scottish Claymore Sword is made from sturdy mild-steel incorporates every one of the classic elements of Highland claymore design. The cross-guard is a V-shape angled down towards the blade, with each termination ending in a ‘quatrefoil’. The four-fold design, which resembles a four-leaf clover, is a common throughout Christian imagery of the period, appearing throughout the ‘Gothic’ architecture that began to replace the Romanesque styles of the High Medieval period. This imagery crops up in Scotland associated with royalty from the end of the 13th-century – for example, John Balliol, a shortlived King of the Scots whose renunciation of the English and the signing of an alliance with Phillip IV of France led to the Second Scottish War of Independence, bore an image of a throne with quatrefoils upon his Great Seal. The quillons are attached to a distinctive quillon block with a long spur that extends up the blade: although some speculate that this was an extra means to distribute the enormous shearing forces acting upon the long blade or a means of ‘catching’ an opponent’s blade, it likely had little function beyond a distinctive aesthetic addition.
The handgrip of our Scottish Claymore Sword is a sturdy oval cross-section wrapped in leather for a fantastic grip surface, whether you’re bare-handed, gloved or wearing gauntlets. The pommel of our claymore is a sizeable wheel-type (classified as an Oakeshott Type I), which is carefully weighted to bring the balance point of the blade closer in to the hilt. The construction of the pommel is full-tang and peened – the cross-guard, grip and pommel are all threaded directly onto the tang of the blade, before it is hammered flat to lock all of the pieces in place solidly. This means that it is a thoroughly battle-ready sword, capable of being used safely in re-enactment, roleplay and light combat contexts.
A Sword Fit for the King of the Scots: The Elite Series
Are you in search of a weapon that is a cut above the usual? Darksword Armory’s bespoke Elite Series swords bring an extra flourish of beautiful artisanal craft to their range – and the Scottish Claymore Elite Series Sword is a true gem. Rather than a 5160 steel blade and a mild-steel hilt, all of the metal parts of the Elite Series claymore are made from glorious pattern-welded ‘Damascus steel’. This technique has its origins in the first-millennium CE, when swordsmiths would pile, twist and fold their metals together in order to homogenise the inconsistent iron and steel of the day, and they noticed the stunning, intricate patterns they could create in their swords by carefully arranging and folding the metals. In later years, this patternation became associated with the exquisite quality South Indian wootz steel imported into Europe via the Middle East, where it acquired its name ‘Damascus steel’. This high-carbon steel was super-hard, and was by far the best steel produced before the advent of industrial steelmaking in the 19th-century CE – swords made from it were capable of notching or even breaking other swords at a stroke. Thus, by carefully piling, forging, folding and cutting four grades of modern steel, the master-smiths at Darksword Armory can reproduce this magical ancient metalwork, resulting in a fully-hand-forged sword whose steel has a unique rippling grain: no other sword ever produced will have the same pattern as yours.
The Scottish Claymore Elite Series Sword is limited to only 100 swords worldwide – once they have been sold, they will never be made again. Each one comes with a letter of authenticity signed by Darksword’s founder master-smith Eyal Azerad, and sealed with Darksword’s Elite Series wax seal. They are also provided with an upgraded bespoke leather scabbard and sword belt. There is no finer way to own a piece of lovingly-recreated Highland history than our Scottish Claymore Elite Series Sword.
(History): History of the Scottish Claymore
Taken from the Gaelic ‘claidheamh mór’, the Scottish claymore is quite literally, a ‘big sword’. When we have an in-depth look at Scottish claymore sword history, the Highland claymore’s blade appears as somewhat of a throwback: it bridges the gap between the end of the Age of Plate, and the beginning of the Age of Gunpowder, ending in a spectacular blaze of glory with Dundee’s devastating Highland charge at the Battle of Killiecrankie.
The Claymore in Context
By the end of the High Middle Ages (c. 1300 CE), revolutions in armor design and the emergence of plate armor meant that sword design had moved decisively away from swords designed wholly for cutting. The Type XIIIa swords seen around the Crusader period (1100-1250 CE) were typical for their age: heavy-bladed, capable of bursting maille and severing limbs, swords designed solely for delivering enormous slashing blows with parallel edges and spatulate points – you’d be right to think that these resemble the Highland claymore! But in the battlefields of the early 14th-century, initially transitional armor forms, and later full plate-armor, were becoming capable of more or less completely frustrating slashing weapons. Thus, by the first quarter of the 15th-century, when full garnitures of wholly enclosing plate were being made for nobles and ordinary soldiers were beginning to have access to cheap forms of plate armor such as the brigandine, the longsword’s role had to change.
Longswords like the Type XVIIIa developed, which were stiff diamond-shapes in cross-section, with extremely long sharp points – these could both batter opponents were hard percussive blows, as well as puncturing through weak-points in plate armor or maille with sufficient force. At the same time as these advances in defensive equipment, military tactics had also changed significantly: serried ranks of pikemen were rapidly becoming a staple on the battlefield. In response, other forms of the longsword such as the German Zweihander emerged: these enormous swords were more akin to pole-weapons, and soldiers wielding them were deployed in front of allied pikemen to knock aside enemy pikes and create openings for their friends. How, in this context, did a sword develop in Scotland, and indeed become dominant, which was closer in design to something used by their ancestors three centuries before?
The Galloglas Return Home
Firstly, we should be careful how we conceive of the lineages of medieval weaponry. The swords and armor that have survived down to the modern age are only a tiny fragment of the diversity which existed at any one point in history. It’s likely that people were using their grandfather’s sword or the family heirloom breastplate years after it should have disappeared from the historical record, and countless developmental dead-ends and innovations have simply not made it into the historical record. It’s highly likely that large, slashing-oriented swords were indeed still being made well into the 15th-century for various military contexts: for example, the putative sword of legendary Dutch folk hero Pier Gerlofs Donia is of this type, and it was considered a ‘peasant weapon’ in its time at the turn of the 16th-century CE.
Secondly, we should consider the unique context of Scottish inter-clan warfare which solidified the position of the Scottish claymore sword as the emblematic weapon of Scottish martial power. Scotland successfully defended itself as an independent sovereign monarchy throughout the medieval period, with its own King’s Council and Parliament made up of churchmen, nobles and representatives of the Scottish burghs. As a hardy people constantly striving to assert their independence against the threat of English domination, Scottish warriors acquired a European reputation for ferocity – and the most well-knows of these were the galloglas. These were a caste of Scots and Irish warriors descended from the 10th-century Norse settlers of the Celtic fringe – indeed, the word ‘galloglas’ is a butchered Anglicisation of the Gaelic ‘gall óglaigh’ meaning ‘foreign warrior’. These Highland warriors served as mercenaries in various conflicts on the Continent, where they discovered the Swiss and German greatswords of the late-medieval period, taking them back with them. The Isles surrounding Scotland were renowned as the location of a number of highly sophisticated artisans and cutlers, and there are records of fine blades that were commissioned in Solingen, Germany by galloglas mercenaries being brought to the Isles and fitted with the unique Scottish claymore sword hilt.
The Claymore and the End of Independent Scotland
Clearly, these swords became integral to the image of aristocratic composure in Late Medieval Scotland, doubtless due to their association with the martial prowess of Scottish mercenaries abroad. The ‘Black Book of Taymouth’, commissioned in the late 17th-century to catalogue the family history of the Campbells of Glenorchy, depicts Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy (1550-1631 CE) as wielding an extremely characteristic Scottish claymore sword, with other members of the family and their associates wielding similar (although not quite as grand) large two-handed swords. Their indelible association with Scottish military power, and the aristocratic wielding of that power, was set in stone forever by the last battle at which the claymore saw significant use. By the late 17th-century, powder weapons such as the musket were becoming the primary infantry weapon, and at the Battle of Killiecrankie the two world of sword and shot collided. The Viscount Dundee, at the head of a force of hundreds of Jacobite Highland warriors, personally led a ‘Highland charge’ against the Protestant supporters of William II of Orange: a single shot of musket, followed by a headlong dash with axes and claymores directly into the teeth of the guns of their enemies. This was absolutely devastating, and although Dundee himself was mortally wounded, the Jacobites shattered the much larger Williamite army. Tragically, Dundee’s cause was not to be won – the battle left the Jacobites depleted, and the campaign ground to a stalemate, ending the cause of the Stuarts for now. But the claymore would never be used again on any scale – it was rapidly overtaken by the unstitching of Scotland’s traditional social ties in the face of a rising British empire.
In all, our Scottish Claymore Sword is a no-brainer addition to your armory. It is steeped in centuries of Scottish history, and holds a place of instant recognition amongst the general public that stands head and shoulders above any other sword. Our Scottish Claymore Sword is authentic enough to be the centrepiece of an exacting historical replica of a late-medieval Highland clansman, alongside a tartan (or great kilt in later iterations) – but it is also a fantastic fantasy weapon for any swordsman or soldier to boost your roleplay outfit into the next planar dimension. It also bears a striking resemblance to Geralt’s sword from the Witcher III video game, as this was the inspiration for its design (right down to the quatrefoils!). The Scottish claymore melds seamlessly into an enormous variety of contexts and settings. And that’s not even to mention a certain Hollywood film…
- Total length: 48 inches
- Blade length: 37 inches
- Blade width: 2 inches
- Blade material: 5160 carbon steel / 1095, 5160, L-6 and O1 steels
- Guard and pommel material: Mild steel / 1095, 5160, L-6 and O1 steels
- Weight: 3 lbs 6 oz.